Plymouth City Council standards committee to be replaced
By Plymouth Herald | Thursday, June 21, 2012, 06:47
THE standards watchdog which last year suspended a Labour city councillor in a dispute with his Conservative rival is set to be abolished.
Plymouth City Council's standards committee will be replaced with an informal advisory panel if councillors agree at their meeting next Monday.
Last March the committee suspended Bill Stevens, Labour councillor for Devonport, for eight weeks after he appeared to link a Conservative rival to an inflammatory comment about sex and religion on a right-wing website.
Now the committee is to be abolished as part of the Localism Act 2011. The new regime brought in by the Government last year is a compromise between localism and centralism.
Local authorities are obliged to police the conduct of councillors but, above certain minimums, they can now set their own standards. Enforcing the rules will be split between the criminal law and local authorities themselves.
The changes have been brought in partly to speed up justice for councillors who are accused of breaches.
Because the Government has only just finalised the provisions of the Act, Plymouth City Council will continue to use its old code of standards until a new one can be drawn up.
The standards advisory group will have three councillors from each political group, and the council will seek an independent member.
Mr Stevens said last night that he could not comment until he had had a chance to study the new provisions.